Written by Katarina Marais | 01 February 2021
“Dualog makes an annual charitable donation and most recently, with The IMO World Maritime theme for 2021 “Seafarers: at the core of shipping’s future”, we decided to support the invaluable work of the International Seafarers’ Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN).
As a new member of the charity, we have been very impressed with the direct help given to crew,” Katarina Marais, International Marketing Manager.
To find out more about ISWAN’s work we spoke to Project Manager, Caitlin Vaughan.
ISWAN was founded in 2013 as a merger between two existing organisations – SeafarerHelp (a 24-hour helpline) and ICSW. In 2015 the Maritime Piracy Humanitarian Response Programme was brought under our services to support seafarers and their families who had had issues either during a kidnapping or after it. We were able to expand into three regions at that time, The Philippines, India and Nigeria, previously we were only operating out of London.
The role of ISWAN has evolved over the years and today there is a focus on improving the mental health of seafarers. This, counselling skills, suicide risk assessment and providing emotional support. Recently we employed two new Counsellors in India and the Philippines to support our work in this area. And, of course, we also provide assistance, both emotional and financial, to the families of seafarers as well as mariners themselves.
Over the past 12 months we have helped thousands more seafarers than in the previous year and this increase continues. The whole team is working round the clock and the pressure on the helpline and regional teams has been immense due to the sheer volume of cases. We are so fortunate that many companies came forward to support us financially through this period enabling us to increase our services.
As to the coming year, in addition to our work in the regional offices, we will continue our focus on improving mental health - we have just produced Mentally Healthy Ships which explores ways to improve mental health policy and help create a healthy onboard environment. We are also currently running a big project called Social Interaction Matters, looking at what drives interactions, the barriers to social interaction and how they can be overcome. When we have collated all our findings these will be presented in a toolkit to help companies support their seafarers.
To find out more about ISWAN's work, please click the here.